City of Beaufort 2015 budget final vote Tuesday

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJune 10, 2014 

Merlin, a carriage tour horse with Sea Island Carriage Co., is shown June 7, 2014, near the water trough in the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot near Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Reports of unexpected falls by the horse have city officials worried about Merlin's safety and that of people nearby.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

Beaufort City Council is expected to finalize a 2015 budget that includes a temporary deficit tax and hundreds of thousands in spending cuts during its meeting tonight.

Meetings will begin with a 5 p.m. work session discussion about the horse carriage tour operations downtown, followed by a closed-door meeting to discuss personnel, receive legal advice and discuss pending contractual matters.

The voting meeting will begin at 7 p.m., and, along with the budget votes, include ordinance changes related to a historic home renovation tax incentive program and possible action related to the closed-door meeting topics.

City Council granted initial approval to a $16.87 million budget for next year during a meeting May 27. It also granted initial approval for a temporary 3.72 "deficit mill," which would raise about $257,000.

That deficit mill, however, won't cover the full $345,000 deficit that city officials anticipate from this year.

The deficit is a result of factors stemming from changes in business licensing on the state level and a decrease in property tax collections.

When Beaufort County reassessed property last year, the city was allowed to adjust the tax millage rate so it could collect the same amount as in previous years.

However, values have dropped another 5.6 percent because of appeals, city manager Scott Dadson said. Coupled with a 92 percent collection rate instead of the usual 97 percent, the city's income has taken a hit.

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